Nashville: Lovesick Blues Review

The moment Nashville fans have been waiting for has finally arrived.  The rising star and the living legend go head-to-head in a refreshing change of pace.

The episode starts out rather slow, but you can feel the anticipation building as both Juliette and Rayna learn they will be performing a duet together at their label’s 25th anniversary celebration.  Juliette learns the news when she is brought in for a meeting with label head Marshall Evans.  She is understandably disappointed, as she is their top-selling artist, but Marshall insists that she still needs one last push to bump up her image.  Rayna, on the other hand, finds herself being blackmailed into the whole deal.  If she doesn’t perform the closing number with Juliette, her next release is going to be a greatest hits album–a sure sign of a career in decline.

Though both ladies persist, they eventually agree to sing together.  The scenes between the two were easily the best of the night, with lots of snarky back-and-forth’s and sideways glances.  Their first meeting goes…well…pretty horribly.  Rayna clashes with Juliette on the song choice, leading to a heated argument that ends with Rayna telling Juliette she’s only doing this performance as a courtesy, and that Juliette hasn’t earned the right to perform in the iconic venue where the celebration is to be held.  Deacon actually sides with Juliette on this one, proving he’s definitely not over his and Rayna’s  “professional” breakup.

Eventually, Rayna takes it upon herself to visit Juliette’s home and the two decide to write an original song for their performance.  Though I wouldn’t exactly call them best buds, Juliette and Rayna end up working fairly well together.  Their song ends up being a smashing success, full of upbeat, girl-power energy.  Marshall looks on from the side of the stage and mutters to himself that “this is going to be huge.”  He might be a corporate sleaze, but he’s right.  Onstage, Juliette and Rayna are a match made in country heaven.  Sure, they come at each other with guns a’ blazing, but that’s half the fun.

If this week’s episode had just focused on the Rayna and Juliette rivalry, it would have been perfect.  Unfortunately, there were some side plots that added almost nothing to the overall story.  The weakest entry of the night centered around Scarlett trying to get over Avery.  It all felt so rushed and immature.  First Scarlett can’t get over Avery, then Hayley convinces her to go out for a night on the town, then she feels bad and goes to see Avery, but he’s busy boinking his new manager so she gets mad and leaves.  It all just seemed like an unnecessarily elaborate way of showing that Scarlett should forget Avery and move on to Gunnar, who obviously isn’t over her.  Not to mention, the show ventured slightly into Glee territory when Scarlett is randomly asked by the house band at a bar to join them in singing Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  Perhaps this is an everyday occurrence in the city of Nashville and I just don’t know it, but it felt very forced.

The other storyline was only slightly more interesting, with Coleman confronting Teddy with the photos of him and Peggy.  I’ve got to hand it to Coleman, actually.  It takes guts to look your opponent in the eye and tell him to withdraw from the race.  Naturally, Teddy goes running off to Lamar who devises a counter-move by getting his judge friend to reinstate the possession charges against Coleman.  It’s getting a little tiring to watch Teddy continually state that he and Peggy are just friends, when she clearly wants something more.  Still, it’s always a pleasure to watch Powers Boothe scheme and scowl.

Overall this episode was much improved from the last few weeks’ ho-hum storylines.  The showdown between Rayna and Juliette really delivered, and the potential to see more of them is enticing.  Nashville still has some kinks to work out, but if it can just up its game with its supporting characters then I think it will truly be the season’s best new drama.  Grade: A-

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